Ilmtal Cycle Path and Falconry

In late summer 2023, we decided to go on a short bike tour while the weather was still good. A few years ago, we cycled south from Weimar towards Hohenfelden Reservoir. However, the bike path turned out to be a real challenge as we had to push our bikes uphill through an overgrown forest. Surprisingly, even today, Google does not feature the Ilmtal Cycle Path. This time, we relied solely on road signs, without a navigation system, and rode to the neighboring town of Kranichfeld, from where we had taken the train back the last time. Depending on how early we would arrive, we planned to visit the castles there and, in the end, attend a demonstration at the Adler- und Falkenhof Schütz at 3 PM. This demonstration was only available until October and is considered one of the coolest attractions in Thuringia.

Map by outdooractive.

Around 10:30 in the morning, we set off on our journey. The first part of the route was familiar to us, as we had often traveled to Mellingen, either due to Nathalie’s running route or the annual farmers’ market there. As shown on the map diagram, the terrain was generally uphill, occasionally steep enough to require us to push the bikes. However, these uphill stretches were usually less than 100 meters, and the rest of the way was mostly flat. Sometimes, there were gravel paths with many pebbles, but these were the exception.
Around 12 o’clock, we stopped at one of the numerous resting spots and had sandwiches that we had brought along. During our ride, we encountered many other cyclists who seemed to have similar plans. According to Google Maps (although with an incorrect route), the estimated travel time was 1.5 hours. Using Outdooractive with OpenStreetMap, it was estimated to be around 2.25 hours, assuming the route was from Kranichfeld to Weimar (thus mostly downhill). With our lunch break, we were on the road for approximately 3 hours, and there was only about an hour left until the demonstration at the Adler- und Falkenhof. Consequently, we headed straight there.

When we arrived at the Adler- und Falkenhof, there were hardly any people there. However, as we waited, more and more guests arrived, and by the time the show started, there were around 30 people in attendance. It was evident that this was a popular attraction. While waiting for everyone to enter and take their seats, we walked around and took photos of all the birds, although we didn’t know which ones would be featured in the demonstration.
Mr. Schütz explained that he has been operating the first Thuringian Adler- und Falkenhof since 1992, located near the Niederburg in Kranichfeld since 2005. During the show, he let birds of different sizes fly and perform dives over the audience, starting with a falcon, then an eagle, and finally, a large vulture. It’s rare to get so close to these birds, and it was very impressive how he controlled them and brought them so near to the audience. The demonstration was truly captivating, and in addition to taking several photos, we also recorded a few short videos.